The Xbox One Believers

I came to E3 this year in search of good news about the Xbox One. By week’s end, I found a few men able to tell me some. I’d heard the bad things about the Xbox One -- the inability to lend games discs to friends, the requirement for the console to check in online every 24 hours in order to play even a singleplayer game.

I’d heard some of this with my own ears. I’d read some of the other unsettling things nearly on the eve of E3 in a series of policy documents by Microsoft that seemed incapable of balancing the Xbox One’s unprecedented new negatives with whatever new positives the machine was going to bring.

On the night of June 10, at a massive E3 conference in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, the head of PlayStation business in America, Jack Tretton, smiled as he delivered a series of announcements about things the PS4 wouldn’t do, things that mapped neatly against things the Xbox One supposedly would do. PS4 wouldn’t check in every 24 hours. It wouldn’t stop you from lending a game.

Tretton received a rousing and emotional ovation from the thousands of industry professionals at the PS4 event. A day letter, Tretton more or less dropped the mic. Forget the Xbox One, the consensus was. More like: Sony won.

But only an hour after Tretton made his announcement, back when the PS4 buzz was strongest, I was entering a Microsoft event five miles away. There I found people who are making games for the Xbox One, people who don’t seem irate about the machine but, rather, seem excited about it. In the days to come, I’d meet more and eventually sit down with Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox game development to get his admittedly biased take.

I wanted to hear the positives, because I could not accept the madness that there might be none.

Kotaku: Let's start with something I imagine you guys think is a positive and yet I don't think it's understood by many people as a positive or why it's a positive and that's: This is going to be a console that -- for the first time ever among consoles -- you're going to have to make an online connection within 24 hours when you're playing a single-player game. Essentially it's checking in on you...

Phil Spencer, Microsoft Studios: Which would not be one of the positives, right? When you think about the ecosystem, I would not try to sell or position to a gamer that the connection requirements, [and] to some extent the bandwidth requirement -- though the bandwidth requirement for licensing is something in Kilobytes -- the advantages...

Kotaku: Would you not argue that that's one of the big boons?

[Spencer laughs. I take that as a "no."]

At the Xbox event on the night of June 10, I run into Ted Price, whose studio Insomniac Games had been PlayStation-only since the late 20th century, until about a year ago. He sits in front of a looping pre-rendered trailer for an Xbox One exclusive called Sunset Overdrive, a -- his words -- “highly-agile open-world shooter”.

Price wants the game to be updated online regularly, maybe even daily, though he doesn’t want to commit to that. He wants the game world to change. He wants to offer players new weapons and challenges, to take in player feedback and adapt. He wants this even for the undated game’s single-player. He seems to like the idea of a game that would be checking in online a lot.

“When it comes to our game,” he tells me, “being online is an aspect of playing a game that is constantly updated.”

Call the Xbox One anti-consumer if you will, but it strikes me that Insomniac is about as consumer-friendly as a game development studio gets. They’re constantly reaching out to the community and have done so for years. Maybe they got a sweet deal from Microsoft to be an Xbox One exclusive, but these gaming nice-guys... they had to be seeing what others were seeing, and yet they weren’t fleeing from Xbox One. Rather, they seemed quite comfortable to be on Xbox One.

I suggest to Price that his studio might push back to Microsoft against the 24-hour check-in requirement.

“I think they’re getting plenty of feedback from players right now,” Price says.

Insomniac could add pressure, I offer.

“There’s a lot of opinion out there right now on all these consoles,” he says. “We’re focused on making the games. For us that’s what we do best. Building a world like this and building new IP is something that gets us energised.”

Spencer: When you think about the media that you have available in your life today, whether it's books, music, video or, frankly, games on any other device, the physical licenses don't exist anymore. What you're doing now is you're buying this content which is associated with your account and the device that you're on. That content moves with you. It's non-perishable... You lose the disc, the disc scratches, frankly you don't care about the disc anymore. The content's associated with you, your library roams wherever you go, you have access to it on any machine you log into, your family has access to the full library of content that's available to you.

We also understand that this is going through a transition for consoles. A lot of other media have already gone through this transition, and the advantages for other ecosystems are out there and people have voted. There are iTunes songs sold. People do go buy those.

But when we go through the transition with games, there's a physical world that's out there today. We want to make sure we support that...A disc is a good way for you to bring a lot of data into your house and install it on your hard drive. So we want to support that. Another feature is the secondary market. We wanted to get out there [and say] we're supporting the secondary market. You can re-sell your disc, and there's work to make that happen. It's an important part of the ecosystem today.

Your licences are associated with you and your account and you're able to roam that wherever you go on any Xbox One. You know what content is available to you.

As you look forward and you look at digital ecosystems -- we can talk about World of Tanks... World of Tanks is a digital licensed product, as well; it takes advantage of the cloud in interesting ways in gameplay. The game is natively online. But also I can have an account at work -- don't tell anybody I play at work -- I can go home, I am playing World of Tanks on both machines. I'm kind of always up to date.

In our system you actually would always be up to date, because the box is actually making sure that you've got the latest versions of the bits, so when you sit down and click play it's not, let me wait for the new patch... and you can turn that off... the content you have is always available to you and up to date.

Kotaku: You're anticipating that console gamers will be more mobile creatures than they were before? That they will always be roaming from house to house and box to box and that constant access to content will feel more relevant?

Spencer: I think there are two pivots to it. One is moving from box to box, multiple machines in a house. And if you think about a box -- I know to some people out there they like to make fun of us when we talk about television -- but if you think about a box that's going to bring unique capabilities to television viewing, you can actually imagine a house that has multiple Xbox Ones, over time, connected to your TVs. Similarly, when you go from TV to TV, you assume you can always watch AMC, when you move around to different machines in your home -- I'm not saying this is tomorrow or even on launch date -- we designed the system thinking about long-term.

Who knew that Nathan Vella would be at an Xbox showcase last week? He runs Capybara Games, one of the most heralded indie studios out there. The narrative right now is that indies flock to PlayStation.

Vella, who tells me he's cool with all the platforms, is sitting at the Microsoft event, drink in hand, with a trailer of his team's 2014 Xbox One game, Below, on a loop. A little man with a sword and a shield battles through massive, beautiful worlds.

"We started working on this game when Demon’s Souls happened," he tells me. "That game kind of vetted a lot of our beliefs that people are looking for brutal but fair shit."

Vella's game is one of the only ones shown for Xbox One that day that doesn't have a gun. It looks like an art project and/or a successor to Capy's gloriously oblique Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery.

"Sworcery is about walking; Below is about exploring," he says. "And while you’re exploring, you're surviving, because it’s a difficult game. It’s not a game that’s going to hold your hand. It’s not a game that’s going to tell you anything. It’s textless. It’s essentially tutorial-less, and you die a hell of a lot. When you start exploring, your goal is to find everything and while you’re trying to find, you’re really just trying to survive, and if you manage to survive, there’s an opportunity for you to discover a whole lot."

He mentions that there will be a "real persistence" to Below's world, but that "we're being mighty coy about that." His team would be "using the whole suite -- and then some of the whole Xbox One online features." It's a single and multiplayer game.

This all sounds so nice. He doesn't sound like he is allied with the bad guys. That 24-hour thing not bugging you? I asked. The trading in thing? "I think for us it’s all about the game," Vella says. "We’re working in a space where we want to hit a very wide audience and Microsoft proved that they could do that with Xbox 360 to a huge market. Being on a downloadable service alongside Minecraft, that matters a lot. For me a lot of it is about helping to provide alternate avenues on a platform for gamers to experience different things."

He adds that he liked the competing platforms, too. I can't help but wonder about how a studio as creative as his would take advantage of a console that had to keep checking in online. Maybe, if creators knew that was a default feature, they'd all do something good with it?

[Spencer and I discuss the Xbox One's new family sharing option, which lets 10 members of a "family" share access to games. This seems to be the best thing of all the uncustomary new parameters that have been established for this new Xbox. In a family group, the head of household can always play any game; and one other member of the family, no matter where they are, can play too.]

Kotaku: Can we be in the same family?

Spencer: Yeah.

Kotaku: What would be the limitation on that?

Spencer: [After encouraging me to check Microsoft's published document on this] I do think that sharing in a family group is an important part of the positives in our ecosystem today...You don't have to send in your birth certificate. You define what a family unit is and the people who connect to you and how that library works.

Kotaku: The 24-hour thing is required in order to enable this? You weren't jumping on the opportunity to argue that the 24-hour thing is a nice thing or a positive thing...

Spencer: I just said it's not one of the selling features of the box. To know that your licenses are always up to date, to know what content is associated with your account, if you're going to support gifting, if you're going to support the re-sale of content -- because remember, when you go back and sell a disc now, the licence is actually associated with your account, so if you think through the mechanism, the licence has to get disassociated with your account, it has to get associated with somebody else's account, requires that we actually are able to check what licenses are available to you and those are available to you wherever you go.

Kotaku: Is that something you could turn off or change if people are in some extreme circumstance where you know they wouldn't be able to... the military base is the thing that gets brought up all the time.

Spencer: It does. It's a good question for people who are in, I'll call it, a completely disconnected state. Look, you can imagine, we're trying to launch a console and there are a lot of moving pieces to it. We want to be unambiguous to what our policy is. We're going to put it up in black-and-white terms on the website, Xbox Wire. Here's what we're doing.

We're taking feedback and we're absolutely listening to what's out there there. But I don't want people to take that statement to think that our policy isn't our policy.

If you're in a situation -- I'll go to an extreme -- where you can't connect to the Internet, you can't tether to your phone, you have no Internet connection, the Xbox One isn't going to be the box you want to buy. Because the box, it's similar... I'm not making fun of anybody else's product, but if you think about an iPad, if you could never connect to the App Store, it becomes less functional, right? So what we're saying is this is a box that is a natively connected box. The features and, frankly, the content that is created is expecting an Internet connection. That's where the creators are taking this.

One of the buzz games of the show, possibly the Game of E3, is Titanfall, a multiplayer shooter made by a team that previously cooked up Modern Warfare. It's coming to PC, Xbox 360 and, most importantly, Xbox One. The development team is called Respawn Entertainment and is led by the top people from the Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward. Vince Zampella is the boss there, and when I run into him at his publisher EA's booth in the midst of E3, the negatives of any console are far from his mind. He's showing a hot game that runs on Microsoft's new box.

Titanfall is a multiplayer-centric shooter, but not quite the Call of Duty type. Zampella's crew is showing off a seven-on-seven match, but the action is amplified both with the agile mech-like Titans that players can command in the map and with hordes of computer-controlled grunt soldiers. These grunts, Zampella explains to me, are meant to behave like the AI (artificial intelligence) of the kind of enemies you'd see in the single-player campaign of a big shooter. Respawn isn't making a single-player campaign for Titanfall.

"That’s a 7 on 7 game but it felt huge because there’s AI in there that brings the world to life," Zampella says, referring to the Titanfall bout I'd just seen.

The AI for the grunts is designed to run off of Microsoft's cloud servers, a service that the Xbox One maker is offering to all game creators on the new console. The cloud service isn't the same as the 24-hour check. That check is lightweight and once a day, at most. Cloud computing can be constant. A game that uses it might have to maintain a connection, most likely. Titanfall's use of it wouldn't be a hassle. After all, the game is multiplayer; it needs to be online just for that, alone.

With Zampella there, I sense I can get some answers on whether this cloud stuff is really just hype. I mention I'd seen plenty of games that don't use the cloud rendering tons of characters on screen, though maybe not in multiplayer. "It’s better to do it on the cloud," Zampella said. "It’s more secure. It’s a better experience. It also lets us focus on the experience we’re giving to you, the rendering experience, all that power. The more we can offload the better, because then we can do more locally on your box." In other words, if they calculate the grunt AI remotely, the Xbox One can spend more processing on graphics.

It's not just that.

The cloud servers, Zampalla said, are "dedicated servers so there’s no host advantage. The game spins up fast." No host system has to be bogged down with that grunt AI. "When that’s handled on the cloud, now it’s the same experience, it’s not lagging for you. If I’m the host, and I’m calculating AI on my box or if we’re both calculating AI on our boxes and we have different things..." That wouldn't be good. The cloud helps. To Titanfall's busy multiplayer design, perhaps it's essential.

Kotaku: It becomes a problem for you guys, if I could buy a PS4 in the hinterlands with no Internet and potentially play some of the same multiplatform games that are released on Xbox One -- and there I am able to play them without an Internet connection.

Spencer: I think the advantage is that designers understand that this is a natively-connected box, and things like World of Tanks [being] exclusive on our box is [a sign that] creators understanding the opportunities when you have a connected device. Vince bringing his game, because he understands the game that he is bringing: I am bringing an online multiplayer game and I can fully support cloud, dedicated server, the capability of a connected device.

Kotaku: If you guys have been thinking about this and really believe in the online connection, it seems like a misstep to me to not be able to say, ‘we'll be supporting lending on day one.’ It feels like there's some shooting yourself in the foot.

Spencer: I'll take that feedback.

Kotaku: You want to do the lending, it sounds like...

Spencer: We do. But we're also trying to launch and we understand feature sets. We've got partners and publishers [we] want to talk to about how lending is going to work. We don't dictate pricing to our partners on our platform. We want to give them capabilities to support content and business models that they want to support with their content. It sounds like Sony is trying to do the same thing. How do we support what our partners want to do? We want to have the conversations with them and land on a plan.

We understand lending and the benefits of lending, so, funny videos aside, we get it. We want to make sure we land on the right solution that fits a digital ecosystem moving forward.

If you think about lending in digital ecosystems, it's not something a lot of other people have supported. We're going to commit... gifting, we said we're going to support that, secondary market we're going to support that even though the licence is digital and it's not as trivial as just handing a disc to someone else. Lending, we want to do it, we want to work with our partners to make it possible.

Kotaku: You understand, obviously, that because these things exist on discs, it's why it seems so odd that -- you're not launching until November -- since I would think I can lend you this notebook and discs, surely I could do the same, but you guys are saying that you won't have the lending solution.

Spencer: We don't have a lending solution today.

Kotaku: You might have one?

Spencer: We don't have a path... I don't want to make a commitment to somebody without a plan of record on how that lands. I could over-promise, under-deliver on the features. I don't want to do that. I want to make sure. I understand how gifting is going to work. I understand how the secondary market is going to work.

Kotaku: As you know, some media outlets can be sensational or extreme -- or so I've heard. [This is a self-aware joke, and we both chuckle.] A Eurogamer headline, if I remember correctly, said: Microsoft kills game ownership and expects us to smile.

Spencer: Yeah.

Kotaku: Do you feel like you're killing game ownership? How would you put it? What are you doing?

Spencer: I do not think we're killing game ownership. I think, if I look at other media that I interact with, I think I have more capability with my music. I think I have more capability with my video library than I probably have ever had. Any other game platform on any other device that I play games on, my library is digital and there are distinct advantages to that, and I think there are real advantages on game consoles that will actually make the library of games that you have more functional.

Microsoft holds sessions during E3 called Xbox 101. During these sessions, a team of Microsoft engineers led by a man named Jeff Henshaw, discuss the benefits of the Xbox One's better Kinect sensor, the ability to run interactive apps alongside live TV and the computational prowess of Microsoft's cloud servers, those same servers Zampella's Titanfall team are using.

Henshaw starts running a demo that shows 30,000 or so asteroids, all of whose positions and movement are culled from real NASA data. The asteroid show up on a big screen in the Xbox 101 demo room. They're all purple.

"Doing all of this computation would require a little over 10 consoles from the last generation," he says. "This is like taking about 10 1/2 Xbox 360s worth of CPU power and cramming it into one elegantly-designed Xbox One. So we are thrilled at what we have been able to do there. Because this type of raw processor horsepower that's mapping the current time and position in space in real time can all be done by a single Xbox One."

He then flips a switch or presses a button or something and about 300,000 more asteroids appear. These are green and all calculated, he says, by the cloud. "What we've done is we've actually invoked CPU resources from the cloud that can instantly be brought online and scaled up and those cloud CPU processes are now feeding about 500,000 updates per second to help us track every single asteroid in real time."

I later ask him if this demo is for real. We're seeing it in the middle of the E3 show, after all, where Internet connections are notoriously dreadful. Yes, it's real, he says, "We are on an Ethernet line with a private line out connected to our data centres." If the plug was pulled, the cloud asteroids would disappear.

Asteroids are nice, but Henshaw anticipated that his Xbox 101 audience would wonder what the point was, especially for games.

"So things like local foliage, blades of grass, atmospheric effects, gunfire, those things can be offloaded to the cloud," he says, "because they're all going to be in your immediate periphery and you want them to be hyper-realistic but not something you necessarily want to burden the console with.

"We're already working with game developers to incorporate some of these concepts and they're coming up with some pretty amazing ideas. Some games will have levels that are literally infinitely expandable. The more players that come online and the more players that come into the world, they will simply spin up additional cloud computing resources to make levels infinitely larger and avoid load times altogether."

He talks about persistent worlds, of games that keep running and can change when you're not there. He's not saying how well the cloud could do this for every game, nor is he saying much about how bad these games will break if the games' cloud connection drops -- some games could be programmed to calculate ahead, he allows -- but he's painting a picture of how games could be made on a console where it's a given that this kind of online stuff is available.

Kotaku: Did you expect this amount of a buzzsaw to go through with all of this? This amount of blowback?

Spencer: You know, you and I have done this for a while. Gamers are passionate in this space. That's why I love being in it. And the amount... there's kind of two vectors there, the amplitude and the frequency. You have a lot of people that are very vocal; you have a lot of people that aren't vocal. I don't take the feedback as being representative of what everybody thinks, and that's not dismissing what the vocal people are saying. I want to hear what they're saying, even when it's somewhat inflammatory in my Twitter account. I actually do read it all. And listen to the feedback. The feedback from the gamers make us better.

I wouldn't characterise it as blowback, because I get equally positive things that it's great that Killer Instinct is coming back or that World of Tanks [is coming]. I don't think I can take one side of the ledger without the other side; it's just part of the business that we're in.

Kotaku: There was a sense of anxiety about privacy and Kinect? You feel though that this Kinect is going to be something that gamers like.

Spencer: That's why I explicitly wrote the paper on privacy. You are going to control the data that Kinect is capturing. You are going to control where that data goes. That's important to us.

Kotaku: Ultimately how do you think this is going to play out? You have people thinking, Sony is a hundred dollars cheaper, Microsoft has built up a lot of negative reaction, that this is going to be a troubling launch over you. I'm sure you have moments of doubt, but what do you expect to have play out for you guys?

Spencer: I don't know if you'll like the answer. Because I'm the content guy, I start with the content we put forward. Gamers play games. And I think we have, and this isn't really a first-party comment, but I'll look all up at the content we showed on stage, I think we have an incredibly strong library of content.

And we built a box and the capability that makes that content unique to our device and our ecosystem, whether it's supporting Kinect, whether it's online and how the gameplay like Titanfall happens, if it's functionality around SmartGlass and connection to other devices.

I see the creators interested in the platform that we're putting forward. We have Ted Price on our stage for the first time. He knows the platform we're building. Vince, he knows the platform we're building. And I think gamers play great games and I feel really good about the games we're putting forward.

We do need to tell our complete story. Policy is not the reason somebody goes out and buys something. They fall in love -- hopefully they fall in love -- with the value prop that you have. We need to tell that story completely. I think when we tell that story completely, people will understand the advantages.

We're trying to manage the transition, because we understand console gaming is physical today, for the most part. Secondary is important. People want to be able to gift their discs. I understand the lending scenario is important as well, so we're working through that transition. But I just look at the world of any other device that I own, and the digital media to me has advantages. As I think about a box that is going to be in the market for a long time, I need to think forward about the ecosystem and how it's going to turn out. We need to make the right trade-offs.

Kotaku: And you think your competitors will eventually come around to you guys rather than you having to bend toward them?

Spencer: I don't know, honestly, and the other thing I'll say -- I've said this a few times today -- I don't really just look at our competitors as Sony. When somebody walks into a store, it's not like their money only goes to Sony or me. There are a bunch of choices people are making about devices they buy and where they play games. I think that's good for gaming, all up...making sure we understand the complete competitive set and where all of gaming is happening. Games are happening on a ton of devices. I think it's great for us. We're trying to make a box that's as relevant for those people as it is for core gamers. We're trying to do both.

I wanted to spend time [at E3] on stage telling the core gamer, this is a box for you. Look at the content that's coming. 90 minutes of games. No Kinect, no TV.


Comments

    NIce to see the other side of the argument.

      I like most of the ideas and what he has put forward, I think they would have been better off just coming out and saying no to second hand and lending, it would eliminate all this confusion.

      I like the idea of the cloud but what kind of latency will we see? Where is the cloud based?

        There's no way in hell I'll get an XBone.
        I just like to see the other side of the argument covered.

          just get a ps4 and microsoft now officaly sucks more dicks than nintendo. while at e3 they didnt even use the xbone for demos. it was just a laptop

    i'm believing more and more that the large group who only want ONE console to succeed are a bunch of cheapskates who won't spend $1500 on two consoles.

      History is filled with failed consoles.
      The industry is doing just fine, if MS go down the shitter, two new companies will emerge to fill the gap.

        SEGA should make a comeback

          The Dreamsaturn One

            I still have a dreamcast sitting on my coffee table. I would buy the DreamSaturn One. I would preorder. I would berate my friends and family until there was one in every home. However, I would probably hold off on the inevitable Sonic game until I saw some reviews. Because Final Fantasy princesses and furries and future hedgehogs and Big the Cat and Shadow has guns and... well... yeah.

        Except there's a difference between Microsoft and those other companies. Microsoft's main source of income is not from the Xbox line. They literally have too much money too fail. Be ready for a shitload of Halo 5 adds everywhere

          That's the problem, they spent it on TV shows by Steve Spielberg and advertising and comping up with stupid names that they can give to their next gen consoles.

          They did get it right in the end, but it's too late to change everything now. They invested a bunch of money into games soon after the reveal and made Family share and allowed trading of games [lots of legal material go here which basically says don't do it without your lawyer present].

          Sony's approach is they want no part of the DRM issue, and if publishers want it they have to work for it and then sell that message to gamers themselves. That way we can decide if the game is worth it.

          But the main reason XBOX is being outsold is the price and pick the rest of the reasons from below,

          Weaker hardware specs Not even disclosed properly yet
          Dev kits aren't ready [leaked photos of E3 dev kits]
          Looks like an HP Elite mini desktop PC
          Comes free with a whole bunch of rules and regulations people have very little knowledge about or absolutely hate.
          Most launch games are third party if not just exclusives they just grabbed at the last second and I cannot illustrate this enough it seems, running on Windows 7 PCs as demo kits.
          Cable television integration is touted, but honestly who watches TV on TV with a gaming console?
          No Halo, Fable, at launch.
          Region locked.

          Please correct me if I'm wrong.

          Last edited 19/06/13 11:33 am

      It's more the fact that gaming is already spread amongst handhelds, PC, consoles and phones. How many machines should I buy? Although Sony and MS are likely to make the most sales, your really only need one or the other because of the amount of overlap in their libraries. I think Sony has slightly better portfolio of exclusives.

        The one thing Sony has this time around is free to play games, which I beleive are going to be essential in order to sell these boxes.

        MS as a lot more exclusives then PS does. They just down right offer more for someone that isn't 12 years old.

      .

      Last edited 18/06/13 3:24 pm

      Ah yes. Because everyone has $1500 to spend on two consoles.

      Cheapskate means that you have the money and won't spend it. What an odd bubble you live in.

      i am also believing more that you are one of those people who get mummy or daddy to buy their consoles, because frankly speaking, not everyone has alot of spare money lying around to buy both consoles. back in the 90s, you would find that most households had only one console, rarely two and if you had one of those consoles, you would have to go to a friends house to plkay the other because he had the other. i for one would like to see all the positive and potential that the Xbone can bring, but at this time i still think that they have done wrong to eliminate a few things that has always made console games unique.

      Or just traditional fanboys justifying their purchase.

      How many people that can afford a next gen console, and the TV required to run it (HD only), don't have internet OR a smartphone with tethering?

      The people Microsoft made the most money off of with Xbox 360 are the guys like me. We have stable internet (even when my internet "goes down", the modem just needs a quick reset, I have never been without internet for more than 10 minutes in the last 15 years) and my phone can tether.

      I buy plenty of Arcade/PSN games, I even bought heaps of games during the recent big sale. I have been subscribing to Live for almost 10 years, and am now a PS Plus subscriber.

      In the end, Microsoft is gearing this thing at me, and I HATE disc swapping. It's so archaic. Once installs became an option for the 360, you could see then this is where MS was heading. It's funny how Microsoft is now twice being forced to be the scapegoat for the evils of the future all of us know is coming whether we like it or not.

      First in PC, now in consoles.

      I already own a WiiU, and will pick up a PS4 when:

      a) they release an exclusive worth forking out the money for, and
      b) they release a white version. It looks amazing in white

      But the discless gaming alone will ensure the One is my go to console. It's just so damn convenient.

        The thing everyone is complaining about (online check in every 24hrs, No game trading, No Sharing) Is also the most popular business model for PC gaming, more commonly as 'STEAM'.

        Its the way of the future, I for one am not worried.

        I agree with almost everything you've said. Microsoft is doing a good job of dragging the PC and videogame console industries forward. If people believe that all digital and these policies aren't the future then they have another thing coming. Family sharing sounds great - essentially replaces the archaic physical sharing of discs, no disc swapping sounds great, game library on the cloud and access from anywhere sounds great (its no different to all your iOS apps being attached to your Apple account or your songs being attached to your Spotify account etc - the future is' services' driven), multitasking sounds and looks very convenient, hdmi passthrough is a nice feature, box is going to be much more powerful (even if its not necessarily the most powerful), and dedicated servers for every game (if true) is a HUGE deal for online gaming. This all sounds good to me. Am I a bad person? Am I alone in the world , based on my opinions? According to the media an vocal haters...yes I am.

      What's wrong with being a cheapskate!? Companies should work for our money - we're not just open wallets that buy everything going around. It took 4 years to buy a current gen system and I was largely happy with my choice and the price I paid, but there ain't enough hours in the day to justify buying all three consoles at this point in my life! (in my early 20s sure but that was a while ago!)

    That's one long article.

    Still not buying an Xbone.

      Every time Kotaku post an article that might be interesting it is always epically long. I really wish they would try to be a bit more succinct.

        Really? I crave these long reads, waaaay to many one sentence "articles" on this site.

        The worst are the links with threadbare descriptions.

      I think that about sums it up. The damage is done. If they came out with something that made it totally worth while I don't think it'd bring people back. The only way they're getting those users back is if Sony screws up.

        Yeah, even if they take back what they have said it will still come across as "We are not screwing you at this exact moment" Because you know they aren't changing, they are just waiting for their next chance.

      I am all for PS4 (yes I do own PS3, Vita, but also XB360, wii, DS etc). But will possibly get the Xbone near end of life if Halo 5 (or is it Halo?) and a handful of exclusives are attractive.

    Titanfall does look fricken sweet. EDIT: aaand its coming to PC, so I'm all good =D

    Last edited 18/06/13 1:18 pm

      PC and PS4 FTW.

        It's an xbox one console exclusive so no PS4

        TITANFALL is NOT coming to PS4.

    Only read the first half so far but it is a giant load of bullshit, those devs are a bunch of guttless fucking wonders.

    "Oh oh its not my place to voice my opinion about the crap online 24HR DRM, i just focus on the games". They are disgracefull, its akin to watching someone get assaulted and not even calling the cops "oh oh but but I was doing my own thing" they should be ashamed.

      did you just compare once a hour every 24 hours to being assaulted . . . . you're a jack ass.

        Haha I can't beleive this guy? It's anti piracy mate about time the game devs crack down on this shit... and you Evidentally need more vitamin D buddy

        No i think he was referring to the devs apathy. Now you are the jackass!

      I hope nothing actually bad ever happens to you, mate. If you're this upset about a games console...

        I thank you for your useless comment that offers no opinion or anything at all, I have suffered more in my life than most people can even imagine thank you so get off your high horse and stop being worthless.

      You're a short sighted goose potato.... With anger issues.

        The world ISN"T ready for perma connections. Maybe in 5-10 years but right now it inconveniences a far larger proportion of people than it helps and it 100% isn't required for a single thing they have outlined for the console.

        They could EASILY have made offline require the disc after first registering to Microsoft servers apon the first installation. Then bam problem entirely, 100%, inexcusably solved with such a simple fix and would more than satisfy 99% of the market.

        And to the above posters who are so incredibly dense they can't wrap their infinitesimally small brains around the simple concept, of an example with identical types of behavior, (as in the it doesn't effect me/not my problem /let someone else do it/ why should i care attitude) and not the actual circumstance leading up to it. Then I hope you remove your selves from the gene pool, because yours are clearly defective.

        *It might help you if i said i had pre-ordered both consoles (though might cancel Xbone if no policy changes occur) and that I love what kinect and the cloud stuff can do i think its amazing. But these restrictions are not there for my benefit only microsofts and aren't needed and as such shouldn't be there. I just wish they would wake up and makes some changes so i didn't have to hate the product on principle.

        Last edited 18/06/13 3:41 pm

      Well i understood what you are trying to say. Apparently people cant decipher 3 sentences without getting confused. He is not saying drm is like watching someone get assaulted. He is saying the Dev's apathetic response to how they feel about drm is like watching some one be assaulted (you the consumer) and the dick head watching (the developers) not doing anything about it. Didn't you people learn about context in school? DID YOU KNOW THAT! Context: the relevant constraints of the communicative situation that influence language use, language variation, and discourse summary.
      NOW YOU KNOOOOOOW!!!!!

        Thank christ, someone with a modicum of English reading comprehension. Shame everyone else here made stupid and inaccurate conclusions about something they did not understand.

          Now you can hold your head high. MS just reversed everything you said was a fuck up. So all the people here that gave you such a hard time are now choking on there dick shaped words. @kingpotato

          Last edited 20/06/13 10:35 am

            I've been ranting for the better part of a year AGAINST the DRM and been resisted the entire way, I even said since the announcement they could fix everything by making the disc mandatory and removing the 24hr check in.

            Big victory for consumers, feels damn good.

              Indeed it does... Indeed it does. *Morgan Freeman voice*

    I was kind of interested in the cloud computing thing they casually mentioned at one point. If it worked and the developers really went for it then that would be the best reason to buy an xbone right there. Theoretically you might never need to buy another console again, if it works.

      Aussie Aussie Aussie! Wait...

        I live in Aus and I have Telstra ultimate cable 100mbps. Don't give me this crap about Australia not being able to handle cloud gaming.

          That's nice for those of you in metro areas, at least.

          I live in Aus, in an estate in a built up area, and I can't even get a basic ADSL connection. Don' give me this crap about Australia being able to handle cloud gaming. You are by far the exception, not the rule

            I live in alice springs, one of the remotest towns there is, and I can get ADSL. In fact, if you look, at the stats, the nearly everyone can. To bad if you cant get net, don't make everyone else suffer because of it.

          I have 100mpbs. Do a speed test to any off shore server and you will see that your speed is know where near enough to handle cloud gaming. The only benifit of 100mbps in Australia is the for parallel downloading and that's it until 1) Companies decided to build dedicated servers in Australia, 2) Cable to US and others is upgraded.

      That's pretty much the point of Gaikai.

        If I recall correctly, Gaikai is a completely different thing.
        Xbox One's cloud computing offloads some of the game to the cloud, but all the rendering and "main" calculations are done on the console. Gaikai runs the game completely in the cloud and streams the footage back to you, like OnLive. Hence why they're using it for PS3 backwards compatibility. They can run the games on PS3 architecture and stream it back to you. Plus I think they were also using it for trials of PS4 games? And so you can start playing games while they're downloading. Again, it runs the game entirely off the console and just streams the footage back to you.

          I meant it in the context of what he was saying about never having to buy another console. In theory, if Gaikai works, then Sony could put the PS5 on the server side and stream those games to PS4 without requiring the user to purchase new hardware.

      I actually suspect Sony is way ahead of MS on this anyway, hence their purchase of established tech as part of the Gaikai acquisition.

        Microsoft has more direct experience with cloud computing than Gaikai, though.

        The idea that Gaikai use for delivering gaming failed 3 years ago in basically every market except asia. Companys went bankrupt because of it and was pretty big in the gaming scene. Comparing Gaikai to Microsofts Azure cloud is like comparing a puddle to the ocean. You get do a lot more with the ocean thanks to its scale, usage and flexibility, then a puddle.

          *than.

          It really irritates me when people stuff that up. Go back to school.

      Cloud Computing aka the New Sim City, thats what the next 5+ years of Cloud computing will mean on the xbone.

      as to the never having to buy a console again, these latest iterations are basically computers without the keyboard and mouse, we have rumors of the xbone running on high end pcs, i wouldnt be suprised if MS pull out of the console market next gen and push a Software solution on PC completly, thats if they survive the beating that sony handed to them.

      Also where is the XBone Disaster watch that Sim City got, the E3 for MS was a disaster, and its just been bad news since, yet hardly any negative MS articles on Kotaku, im putting my tinfoild hat on

      I don't think Joe Average gamers really cares about cloud computing.

      Take a look at this article by Digital Foundry: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-in-theory-can-xbox-one-cloud-transform-gaming

      Basically, it says that all this cloud computing stuff is possible, but only in the future, because there's so many issues in terms of latency and bandwidth. The stuff saying that the console will become 3 times as powerful over the long run is just pure PR bullshit.

      Last edited 18/06/13 3:08 pm

        Expect the fact that Microsoft is already doing this with windows phone and windows 8 devices. They have already proved they can do it. Every windows store app gets automatic cloud support, and a lot of games use the cloud to do the hard yard.

      Except the PS4 also makes use of cloud computing, so I'd base your decision on other factors.

    I personally see a lot of that as an attempt to sugar coat the massive negatives.

    Sounds like a whole lot of marketing speak to me. In the end, the facts are fairly straightforward, and the systems and policies are a lot more restrictive than the PS4, especially if you are not interested in connecting online or into multiplayer. I would really like an XBox1, but I cannot justify getting it at all.

    "We don't dictate pricing to our partners on our platform"

    Well, there goes my hope that this kind of infrastructure would enable cheaper games.

      Well they wouldn't want to over step their bounds and tell people how they can and can't sell their stuff. =P

      You mean how steam does the same thing, which for some reason has drastically cheaper games...

    Urgh...every time MS try to compare their product to something else in regards to the 24hr connection, it never works. Saying you can't connect to your app store via ipad without an internet connection is a bit ridiculous. You can still play the games/apps you already downloaded offline.

      Yeah. Pretty sure I haven't hooked my phone or ipad up to my PC to update anything in at least a few weeks, and that was only because there was ONE app I wanted to update and it was bigger than 50MB.

      Haven't updated itunes in... well. I honestly can't remember.

      I think what they were more comparing is the fact that tons of devices have internet connection demands. They don't need to be frequently updated, but if you don't update your apps, you aren't getting the most up to date, pushed experience. I know my phone sits connected to a network 80% of the time, my computer is 99% of the time connected to the internet, hell even my TV has an internet connection.

      Its not exactly abnormal for a device to require connections to get the proper experience. And really, i don't see it as that much of a downside. If you want an offline console that doesn't get up to date game versions, and utilises cloud computing, buy a PS4. Its finally added a gap to what to purchase other then exclusives, online service, and controller shape. Now the Xbox can serve as the always up to date, always moving forward, utilising as much as it can out of cloud computing. And the PS4 can stay behind, and say, if you want to just play a disc you bought, go for it (though I have a strange feeling Sony avoided talking lending policies for digital distributed games for a reason. We are headed that way, and I'm kind of disappointed they didn't address it in any way.)

      Apple doesn't need to do checks because you aren't able to install by disc, sell your apps or lend/gift them to a friend, so they can allow you to stay offline. Microsoft listened to gamers and implemented used games and lending/gifting, so they needed to do this check.

    http://www.memecenter.com/fun/1678425/insulting-hodor

    I know this is going to sound a little loony but after what I have read up about Edward Snowden and the PRISM system set in place by the NSA, I wonder if the Kinect will play any part in it. Anybody else thought about this?

    Their idea is nice but still wrong as has been pointed out many times. I can play MMO's and other always online/cloud games on PC already yet there has never been a need for a daily check-in.

    I understand the need for always online in games like Titanfall or Sunshine Overdrive but the console has no need for it (why does one need to be connected when playing something like Below or Minecraft, both of which can be played completely singleplayer and offline - atleast from how I read that).

    Last edited 18/06/13 1:44 pm

      Yep, exactly. If a developer/publisher wants to make a game that needs to check in once a day or be constantly online, that's fine, let them do it. There's no need to bake it right into the console. I can decide for myself if I'm prepared to accept that game's requirement to be online for single player play (I'm not) and make a decision on whether or not to buy it (I wouldn't).

      Once you put it right into the console, it then applies to every single game regardless whether or not it needs it (or whether the developer wants it). So instead of making that decision on a game by game basis, we have to make it on the entire platform.

      And that is why there is so much piracy on PC...

      you can play all your xbox one games WITHOUT the disc, you can install every game on the HDD and you dont need the disc anymore! so they need the check-in to check if you are the owner of the game. thats it.

    I think Microsoft see themselves as moving to a games as a service model...

    They're aiming to be the console for five years from now... but I don't know if the market is ready for that yet.
    It was good to see him reinforce that they are allowing resale of games.

    Either way, it's a moot point for me as I'm buying both, but as a long time xbox fan I kind of wish they'd go dark for two weeks and come up with a better, and more consistent message...

      Yep, SAAS (software as a service) is exactly what they they are heading for with the Xbox. They are already doing it on the PC side with their business software (Office 365, Windows Azure).

    Well I believe the Xbone will have many good games and I will eventually get one but the fact remains the PS4 is cheaper and more powerfull and doesn't shove unwanted things like DRM and motion controlls down my throat.
    I think the the Xbone will have a rough start then have a some sort of a mini re-luanch involving a price cut, maybe a new SKU sans kinnect and quite possibly a "restructering" of the DRM.Maybe an offline Xbox one lite.

      Yeah, and I'm still waiting for offline Diablo III on PC...

      Looks like I stand corrected on this one. Look how soon it happened!

    If Microsoft came out at their press conference and addressed all the DRM issues and actually said the words used games and online connection and then not only explained why their cloud processing was so enticing but actually showed the difference between a multiplayer game with the cloud and one without they would not be in the predicament they are now. Their message was terrible They didnt want to deal with the DRM issues so they ignored it and let the press and consumers fill in the blanks

      I think they don't need to show you a Multiplayer game with and without the cloud. It's Multiplayer your going to be connected anyway. I want to see a Single player game with the cloud and without.

    I wonder how much money Microsoft has ponied up to boost the Xbox Help Centre staff numbers? I imagine lots of kids/mums&dads calling them to find out why their games stopped working when it was working the previous day. I just don't think the 'average punter' has a clue about the 24h check-ins etc and just buys the console assuming it will work like before.

      I bet they slashed the call centre to make some money....

    Now I am a Sony fanboy, and i was really hoping MS would come out with something that would at least make my decision for my next console at least a bit challenging... but DRM nailed the xbones coffin imo, always online i wasnt too concerned about as my console is always connected even with my shitty internet.

    Also sunset overdrive is the only xbone exclusive that i'm disappointed i will be missing, it has that wacky, exaggerated, fun, non-serious feel i really like :)

    I don't really understand the anger. The console needs to check in every 24 hours because you no longer need a disc to play the game, it's simply checking to make sure you haven't traded the game and that you still own the license.

    Your trading quite a bit of convenience for a few kilobytes of data at 2am in the morning on a device that is going to be connected to the internet regardless.

    He says games can offload rendering of grass etc to the cloud? That's a potential disaster in the making. Cloud services are financially viable because they basically oversell their processing power on the idea that everyone won't need it at the same time. eg they have 100 units of processing power but sell 20 to 10 different customers; because those 10 won't all need their 20 at the same time.

    Imagine if the next Halo or Gears offloads to the server and millions gamers log in at the same time on launch day, it'll utterly wreak Live, which (to be affordable to run) would be built to only serve a fraction of its users at a time. aka the reason why every online launch ever has crashed and burned (Diablo 3, sim city, mmos). They could in theory plug in extra servers for the peak periods (the beauty of cloud), but the amount of money involved... it's easy to say Microsoft surely know what they're doing, but you could've said the same thing about Blizzard before the D3 launch.

    At any rate, it'll be interesting to watch. The potential is there.

    It's good to see the other side of it but I cannot stand Phil Spencer, he is the definition of smug.

    As an Xbox fan since day 1 I’m not too fussed about the issues with the Xbone. Clearly there are problems, most of them stupid and almost all of them of Microsoft’s own doing, I just don’t think that ultimately it will impact my gaming experience on the most part.

    A lot of people are REALLY focused on the potential negatives, “WHAT IF A,B and C happens then you’ll be FUCKED?!?”. I can understand that because it’s so unnecessary for those risks to be there in the first place, but at the same time people I think for most people most of the time everything will be fine.

    I’ve always loved my Xbox and I think the Xbone will have the same great games and a great controller just like the 360 had. I think there’s also a potential (particularly with the blowback we’re seeing now) that Microsoft takes the fact that you have to pay for Xbox Live and the benefit of extra DRM restrictions for publishers and makes a concerted effort to drive the cost of their games down. If Microsoft can start undercutting Sony on multiplatform releases that would go a long way to negating the DRM shit for me.

    The other thing to consider is how Microsoft’s strong commitment to an online environment will allow it to flourish over the next 5+ years. Have a look at XBL today compared to what it was when the 360 launched, it’s almost unrecognisable. If Microsoft can build off a stronger platform there might be rewards down the track, you never know.

    Anyway, just a few positive points I could think of amongst all the doom and gloom. I can afford both consoles and unless something really weird happens I’ll probably get both, to be honest I’m more excited about sitting down and playing Xbone than I am PS4, regardless of the concerns.

      btw the new controller has a mini-usb port, so you can play and charge with a simple mini-usb cable! =)

    They don't think they're killing game ownership and then lists music and videos. Well people still buy DVDs, Blu-Rays and CDs even though digital downloading has taken off big time. Basically Microsoft're saying screw you to a certain portion of the gaming public. It doesn't matter how small that portion is, they're saying they basically aren't interested in catering to that (offline) crowd and as a result, as a gaming community, a lot of people have stood up and been vocal about it on their behalf.

      They're saying screw you?

      By having games on disc that people can still trade in and buy used?

      Interesting viewpoint.

        I was commenting more on the gamers who don't have an internet connection or who don't hook up their consoles online

          yeah, like paying 500$ for a console, and not having internet. and most of them who complain about this, are COMPLAINING every 24h ONLINE! this is so damn ridiculous

    Ashamed as I may be to admit it here for fear of being eviscerated by the anti-Xbone patrol, but I'm a believer and will be getting one because I need Halo, it seriously isn't even an option for me so back off. And I know three other people in real life with pre-orders.

    But yes, the Xbone will surely have a bad start compared to the PS4 and yes, of course I'm getting a PS4 too, but I think it'll be a great console in the long run and it'll still sell well enough I'm sure.

    I totally agree that the 24 hour check in is a crap policy tho and the simple principle of it is gut churning, even Phil Spencer there seems happy to acknowledge it's crap, so I'm not defending that. I hope they change it at some point with physical disc checks or something, but having said that it won't actually bother me in practice and won't stop me from buying one. Doesn't mean I like it tho, but what's a Halo fanboy to do?

      The PS3 had a bad start until Sony realised what they were doing wrong. I have a feeling Microsoft will do the same. After all, I'd imagine that these policies that they're getting the bad rap for are nothing that can't be fixed with a software update rather than being something hardware related. At the end of the day though when all this has died down it will be the games and the price that will determine which sells better. Unfortunately for Microsoft though, in my eyes at least, Sony are also ahead of them regarding both of those things as well

      Emulation is your friend? =P

      Honestly more power to you though. If thats your personal stance on the game/console then its your right how you spend your money. Most rational people here only take offence when people take what you do one step further and denigrate everyone else while putting yourself on a superior pedestal...

      Personally though the negatives just out weigh any possible positives so i'm staying away for now..

    That content moves with you. It’s non-perishable… You lose the disc, the disc scratches, frankly you don’t care about the disc anymore.
    Between probably nearly 500 games across 7 consoles and 5 handhelds, I've never EVER lost or damaged a game cartridge or disc. Nor do I ever see it being an issue. I don't need you to "take care" of my things for me, I can do that fine myself.

    The content’s associated with you, your library roams wherever you go, you have access to it on any machine you log into, your family has access to the full library of content that’s available to you.
    Funny, you're basically describing exactly how the situation already is with every console up to the GameCube. Just take a bag with a couple of games with me, and hey look at that. I have my games with me wherever I go, and are totally playable on anyone else's machine if they have one. Hell even with the Cube, if they have the game already then I just need to take the memory card and "my game" is there.

    You're not really solving anything here at all. In fact, when me and my friends gather at a local community hall (where there is no internet connection) to spend the day playing games, all our stuff works there just fine.

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